This seems to be the week of the big media guys beating up the little guys and the little guys fighting back.
On Monday, the Motion Picture Association of America sued the new DVD streaming service Zediva. On Tuesday, Sony said its PlayStation Network had suffered outages as a result of attacks by the Anonymous group of hackers. On Wednesday, Google said it had removed an app for the Grooveshark music streaming service from the Android Market.
Movies, games, music then, with a common thread of users trying to circumvent the usual licensing and encryption restrictions on access to media.
We wrote about Zediva when it launched last month and the service promptly fell over as too many people tried to subscribe.
The company streams users the latest DVD releases for as little as $1 each. It thinks it can avoid the usual delay imposed by the movie studios on such releases being streamed by buying the actual DVD, putting it into a DVD player in its data center and renting access to it to subscribers.
But the MPAA alleges this constitutes a “public performance” and Zediva labelling itself a DVD rental service is a “sham”.
“In reality, Zediva is a video-on-demand service that transmits movies over the Internet using streaming technologies in violation of the studios’ copyrights,” the MPAA said in a statement.
It is seeking an injunction and damages against Zediva in a federal district court in Los Angeles. A Zediva spokesman said today it was still reviewing the suit and considering its response.
Sony’s websites have become the targets of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by Anonymous because of the company’s legal action against George Hotz, a 21-year-old US hacker, and Alexander Egorenkov, a German counterpart.
Both are alleged to have “jailbroken” the PlayStation 3 so that unauthorised games could be played on it and then shared their methods with other gamers.
Sony has acknowledged “interrupted service” and says its engineers have been working to restore and maintain its network.
Meanwhile, Google has removed Grooveshark’s app from the Android market for allegedly violating its terms of service. However, Grooveshark said it had not been informed by Google what policies it had violated and had been told only that Google received a letter of complaint from the Recording Industry Association of America.
Grooveshark allows its members to upload their music to its service and share it, by streaming, with others. It sounds similar enough to the original Napster service, which allowed peer-to-peer sharing of music files, to get the record industry’s attention.
Grooveshark had previously attracted a complaint from Universal Music, which led to an iPhone app being pulled, and a lawsuit from EMI. It was the world’s 18th most visited music site in February with 9.5m visitors, according to the comScore research firm.
Google is trying to get the record industry’s agreement to launch its own music streaming service – not that anyone is suggesting those negotiations may have influenced today’s action.
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